HAPEE Toothpaste is looking to bank on its size advantage as it fields two talented big men of almost equal height but different skillsets in the next D-League season opening this month.
Assistant coach Benjie Paras, one of the best big men to play in the PBA, is pleased to have Arnold Van Opstal of La Salle and National University’s Troy Rosario manning the frontcourt for the Lamoiyan-owned company that is making its return to the basketball scene.
The Fresh Fighters acquired the 6-foot-8 Van Opstal in a trade with Cafe France shortly after the PBA D-League draft last month.
On the other hand, Rosario, a 6-7 sweet-shooting big man from National University, is expected to join Hapee when the UAAP Finals end next week.
The 46-year-old Paras, one of the PBA’s 25 Greatest players, noted that Van Opstal’s exceptional size should work to his advantage, particularly on the defensive end and rebounding.
“AVO is a big player. He just needs to concentrate on defense, so sa akin, he just needs to work properly on his (rebounding) skills,” Paras said on Thursday during the official press launch of Hapee Toothpaste at its head office in Paranaque.
Paras, nicknamed “Tower of Power” during his heyday, also noted that Rosario is bound to give opposing defenders a headache, owing to his ability to post up and shoot from as far as 20 feet.
“Troy is a big man, pero he can play from the outside and for sure, he will play in the PBA someday, pero siguro, he should develop more his outside (shooting) skills to be more flexible in the PBA,” explained Paras, who also serves as one of coach Boyet Fernandez’s assistants at San Beda in the NCAA.
Van Opstal averaged 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds for La Salle, which, just last week, ended its one-year UAAP men’s basketball reign after losing to Far Eastern University in their Final Four knockout duel.
Meantime, Rosario is having his breakout season in the UAAP with career-high averages of 11.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 27 minutes of action for the Bulldogs, who forced a winner-take-all match against the Tamaraws on Wednesday following their 62-47 Game Two win.